My idea of wellness when I was younger was the ability to hold everything together. To never have too many things undone. Account for everything in my schedule. Always stay in control. I would feel so much better if I could just keep all the laundry up, house perfect, hair kept up, exercise routine in check, relationships all running smooth, my boyfriend happy, happy boss, attend every church service, special event, family birthday, etc.
Someday I would get Married, buy a house, have 4 children, probably two boys and two girls and we would work, vacation, go to church, get old and someday go to heaven. My parents had a great marriage. It never occurred to me at the age of 21 that my life would be any different.
My whole life came crashing down six weeks after my wedding day. I discovered my “Christian” husband was a drug addict. He overdosed in the middle of the night.
This began a very dark road for me for many years. At the time I couldn’t put words to what happen to me that day. Now, I see that this shocking event affected me similar to Post Tramatic Stress Disorder. I realized for the first time in my life that I wasn’t in control of my circumstances. None of us are.
I couldn’t be neat and together about anything anymore. Not my emotions (crying in the middle of a grocery store makes it pretty hard to keep your makeup perfect), our finances were a mess, my plan to get pregnant right away was ruined, relationships were strained all around, my pride was hurt, my sense of safety with my man of five years was gone, my Faith was in shambles, my job was hard because I worked for my Husband’s father, I couldn’t sleep, I was stress eating and I was so angry about my situation.
My husband’s drug addiction was an on and off again thing for fourteen years. During a clean stint we had our two boys but those years my husband was white knuckling his addiction. Looking back, he would say that he had relapsed a few years before he actually picked up again.
By 2014 when my boys were four and six, I couldn’t continue enabling my husband anymore. I had asked him to leave our home two weeks before Christmas when I walked in on him injecting drugs in his arm. He had lead me to believe he was almost weened off the latest drug of choice (opiates) and I had been helping him by hiding the pills and giving him a smaller dose each week. I agreed to give him grace and take care of everything like working, kids, the house, etc. while he “got better’. When I walked in on him injecting the truth came out that he wasn’t almost done at all. He was getting more pills elsewhere and using them all the more. I was so done.
I was 35 years old, extremely broken and unwell. I asked my husband to leave. He ended up staying with friends and visiting a Celebrate Recovery** program which started his journey to real Recovery. It took a few years of working his Recovery and he would say he has to work on it for the rest of his life. His story is truly a miracle. He went from an IV drug user to a Pastor in three years!
My husband has his story of his journey to wellness and I have mine. Sometimes people don’t realize how addiction affects the spouse. I was equally broken and in need of Recovery.
I wasn’t sleeping at all, I didn’t want to leave my house. I cringed at the question, “How are you doing?” I was in complete survival mode. I just wanted to get my groceries, drop my kids off to daycare/school without answering questions that would make me breakdown and ball my head off. I was living in fear, questioning my decisions to give Adam another chance. Worried that I had made the wrong choice. My kids were fairly young… if he relapsed again they would be older. Would it affect them more? Am I stupid? I felt foolish.
People from the outside looking in would make comments like it was crystal clear. Just leave him. Plain and simple. He will never change. Look at his history. I couldn’t argue that logic. Our finances were a mess. I couldn’t even answer the phone. Everything seemed pointless. People complaining about their colds or their husbands not doing the dishes would make me want to scream. I was so angry.
About a month after Adam came home and was clean we started our own small groups using the material “Life’s Healing Choices”. I gathered a group of ladies and Adam found a group of men and we started a journey that birthed Celebrate Recovery at our church. I am so thankful that God knew exactly what we both would need to heal individually and then eventually as a couple.
The CR share groups help me to open up to my hurts, habits and hangups. I had to step out of denial and admit that I wasn’t fine. I would say, If my husband was good I would be good. But that wasn’t true anymore. I was broken, regardless of how my husband was doing.
I realized that I am not God. I have the tendency to do the wrong thing and my life was unmanageable. I started to rely on God’s power to help me recover. I decided to let go of control and handed my husband over to the care of God. Next, I began the task of dealing with my bitterness and anger. I did an inventory and looked at all the hurts and acknowledged them.
Then I decided to give grace and forgiveness, just as God has done for me, and made amends. This was so freeing to me. I was no longer angry, no longer living in fear, and no longer trying to fix my husband. I was free. This took a lot of work and time. It was one day at a time. I grew so much in the Lord over these few years.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:6-7
My idea of wellness now does not include being calculated, perfect, and predictable. It’s just trusting God and living one day at at time. I’m not worried about tomorrow. I no longer look at my future like it’s already written. I know God has great things for me. I know that there will be trials but He will be so close to me when they come. I almost miss the days that I felt his presence so strongly.
I am not ashamed to be imperfect. I am totally ok with the questions “How are you doing?” and I feel free to say “terrible.” I am becoming accustomed to being honest and realize that people appreciate honesty. I no longer walk into church and try and put a fake face on. I feel free to just be.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
– Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
I give myself so much grace now. My house is clean but hardly ever neat. I put other things on my priority list. Like meeting with a lady for coffee who is going through the same situation I was. Spending time with my husband and kids. Spending time worshipping my God and reading His word. God has blessed me with the opportunity to help others find Healing & Recovery for my job! I am fully loved and cared for deeply by Jesus. I feel so much Joy! I am well!
Perhaps this is the moment for which you have been created for. – Esther 4:14
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** Celebrate recovery groups can be found all over the world for anyone with hurts, hang-ups and habits that are holding you back from living the life God created you to live.